Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 4th I once again had the pleasure of observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration.
As they’d done last year, my local shops offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 53 Free Comic Book Day comics (according to their Facebook post) that their stores planned to order. They set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.
I spent the next three nights reading everything I was given and then tweeting my impressions after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, and (c) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 12:15 a.m Monday night to complete.
Careful observers will note the official FCBD site listed 51 titles in all. I’ve cataloged the following discrepancies:
- Due apparently to oversight, the shop gave me two copies of Aftershock’s Animosity Tales.
- Two titles listed on the FCBD site aren’t in my stack: DC’s oddly formatted Dear Justice League and Golden Apple Books’ Blastosaurus Annual. The shop probably skipped ordering one of these, but I’m not !00% sure which.
- Three titles are in the stack they gave me but not on freecomicbookday.com: IDW’s Transformers/Ghostbusters (a 4-page ashcan they may not have counted as a comic, though the shopkeep did); The Overstreet Guide to Collecting 2019; and the 2019 edition of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Defend Comics.
…so that’s 53-1+2-3=51. Anyway:
This entry is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my presentation of the ten best books of the bunch (I’m not in the mood to rank them), followed by my five least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.